Friday, April 23, 2010

Climate change increasing disasters in China

Insurance News …Earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, droughts - China's economic growth means the cost of such disasters has also risen. According to Peter Höppe, director of geo risk research at Munich Re, the world's largest reinsurer, "just about each and every region in China is affected by some natural disaster or another."

…Contrary to earthquakes, other natural disasters, like storms and floods, are caused by movements in the atmosphere. Climate change is making such disasters more likely, says Peter Höppe. "You can say that climate change is causing the extremes to become more extreme; for example, that relatively dry places, especially subtropical areas, are going to see even less rain and in places where it rains a lot, there will be more rain. This is happening in some regions in China already, especially where there was an extreme drought."

While the north, southwest and central China have seen an increasing number of droughts, the coasts are worried about what will happen if sea levels continue to rise. Recent studies are predicting levels will rise from 50 to 140 centimeters. That would greatly affect China's metropolis Shanghai and especially Pudong, Shanghai's open economic development zone, whose colorful skylines represent China's economic growth.

Peter Höppe is not optimistic about Pudong's future "because in relation to the relative sea level, Pudong and the rest of Shanghai is sinking. Two things are happening: the sea level is rising and, at the same time, the land is sinking. This is going to make it seem that the sea is rising faster." But he does not see any catastrophic scenarios happening in Pudong in this century….

Shanghai skyline, shot by Michel_r, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative CommonsAttribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license

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